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I've heard it referred to as saying grace when you say a prayer to bless the food. Which denominations do this? Is this only a Catholic thing? Where did it come from?

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  • Welcome to Christianity.SE. For a quick overview, please take the Site Tour. For more on what this site is all about, see: How we are different than other sites. The quick answer to your question is that no, saying grace before meals is not exclusively Catholic, but is widely practiced both among Christians and among non-Christians. Because your question is so broad, it might end out being closed. See: What topics can I ask about here? Commented Dec 10, 2017 at 15:12
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    Christians say grace to give thanks to God for their food. I don't know of any Christians who consider their food "blessed" in any way after saying grace.
    – Mick
    Commented Dec 10, 2017 at 15:27
  • In LDS culture we ask people to "ask a blessing on the food". Usually the actual prayer has something like Dear Heavenly Father, please bless this food for the nourishment and strengthening of our bodies, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. So I was trying to compare that to "asking grace" or "saying grace".
    – T-Rez
    Commented Dec 10, 2017 at 23:03
  • Hi! I see you edited your question to ask a second question. You may get more success by asking that as a separate question rather than changing an already existing question. I edited your question to remove the question, but you can view the question history to get your new question.
    – 2br-2b
    Commented Apr 19, 2021 at 19:37
  • SDA church certainly believes in saying grace before eating every meal. I am actually surprised to hear there are denominations that do not engage in this practise.
    – Adam
    Commented Apr 21, 2021 at 2:44

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Christians of all denominations (Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Protestant) may all say grace before meals. Some do and some don't consistently or not.

The origin of the practice is from Scripture.

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

1 Timothy 4:1-5

The word for thanksgiving is eucharist, which is a priestly word, denoting the sanctifying (setting apart) of the food to be received.

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    Moses also told the Israelites to thank God in prayer for their food. See Deuteronomy 8:10, although that verse suggests one should pray after the meal.
    – workerjoe
    Commented Dec 10, 2017 at 19:59
  • So you're implying that there is a possible/probable link between the 1st Timothy scripture, the word for sanctifying and people wanting a word more easy to use is why people use the term ask "grace"?
    – T-Rez
    Commented Dec 10, 2017 at 23:01
  • @T-Rez, that's an interesting question; why do we typically use the term "grace" (who will say grace) and not "thanksgiving" (who will give thanks). My guess is the historical answer lies in the usage of the word "eucharist" (thanksgiving) at 1 Tim. 4:5 that is equivalent to the Eucharist (thanksgiving) usage at the Last Supper (see Luke 22:19 with Matthew 26:27 (which connects to Deut. 8:10 symbol). In other words, give thanks is a priest action, but if one believes in the priest/laity division, then one would substitute "say grace" rather than "give thanks".
    – SLM
    Commented Dec 11, 2017 at 16:00
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    @SLM Latin (the origin of the word grace) has a few words that can mean , if you like, the same thing from opposite sides. Hostis, for example, can mean either "guest" or "host". Similarly gratia, the ancestor of grace, can mean either "a favor given" or "gratitude for a favor given". Thus one can "say grace" (until the 16th century "say graces", i.e. "offer gratitude") for a grace given to us. Commented Jan 19, 2018 at 13:47
  • Some Christians may also say a short prayer after a meal. My father's parents always said "Oh give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good, and His mercy endureth forever. Amen." after a meal. While I don't know anyone else offhand that does so, I doubt this was unique to them. My guess, though, would be that before is most common, with before and after being less common, and I don't know of anyone praying only after eating.
    – Matthew
    Commented Apr 20, 2021 at 12:38
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All Christians should "say grace"/give thanks to God for their food. As a Baptist Protestant I do, as far as I know everyone else in our fellowship gives thanks too.

The practice comes from the habit of our Saviour. Tellingly, the two disciples on the road to Emmaus finally recognised our resurrected Lord Jesus when he gave thanks for the food (Luke 24:30,31).

It isn't just the commands of our Saviour but the example of our Saviour which should be followed.

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I've heard it referred to as saying grace when you say a prayer to bless the food. Which denominations do this? Is this only a Catholic thing? Where did it come from?

I don't know how to answer all your questions, but I can answer one. No, it is not only a Catholic thing to say grace. As a Christian, I do say grace. I know Jews do not usually say grace because they believe that the diner table is an altar before the LORD where they partake of other sacrificed life forms so that they themselves might live.

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The Episcopal Church's Book of Common Prayer (1979) has prayers for "Grace at meals." Four different prayers are given:

Give us grateful hearts, our Father, for all thy mercies, and make us mindful of the needs of others; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Bless, O Lord, thy gifts to our use and us to thy service; for Christ's sake.

Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, for your give us food to sustain our lives and make our hearts glad; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

For these and all his mercies, God's holy name be blessed and praised; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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